ABOVE HIM, from the north, is the very demanding boss, cranky and whimsical, a man who still believes his organizational failures can be solved by bouncing his head coach.
Below him, from the south, is the very unsatisfying team, a group of employees with varying degrees of commitment, perhaps affected by the organization's peculiar, sometimes downright bizarre, working environment.
As if this weren't enough for Tom Cable to cope with, the Raiders head coach now faces the very real threat of getting squeezed from the east.
The Raiders on Friday fly to New York for a game against the Giants on Sunday at the Meadowlands. Sometime between arrival and departure, it's expected Cable will be directed to a seat before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the league's one-man judge and jury.
Here we go again, another round of the NFL vs. the Raiders.
Cable faces the possibility of prosecution for allegedly assaulting assistant coach Randy Hanson on Aug. 5 while the team was at its training camp facility in Napa. Napa cops have completed their investigation into the incident and on Monday submitted the findings to the district attorney's office for review.
Insofar as Hanson was in fact treated for a broken jaw, we can assume something violent happened at the team hotel. Insofar as the police investigated and turned over their findings to the DA, we also know a possible crime was committed.
Hanson's attorney has been running around saying his client was struck by the hand of Cable, calling it a "textbook case of assault."
All of these factors surely are enough for Goodell to swing into action. It was announced several weeks ago that the commissioner's office was keeping an eye on this matter, and Goodell over the weekend informed FoxSports.com that the incident would not get "pushed under the rug."
The commissioner didn't get involved the last time there was a fight between two members of an NFL organization. It wasn't much of a fight, according to witnesses, as Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith decided to conclude an argument by jumping defensive back Ken Lucas during training camp in 2008.
While Lucas was taken away with a broken nose, Smith received a two-game suspension, issued by the Panthers. His status as a three-time Pro Bowl receiver provided zero shelter. His apology didn't help much, either.
The Raiders, by contrast, have not taken any evident action. There is no indication the team has disciplined Cable or anyone else. Moreover, neither Cable nor the Raiders have even acknowledged that Hanson was victimized.
How strong must the scent become before everybody from Oakland to New York can smell a cover-up?
I'm not saying Cable is lying, or that the Raiders are being dishonest. I'm saying their response is straight out of the lawyer's handbook: Admit nothing, no matter what.
In a span of several weeks, though, Cable has evolved from saying, "Nothing happened," to, essentially, "No comment."
"It's just something I'm not going to talk about and shouldn't talk about," he said Monday. "And I'll let the process do its thing."
The process now apparently includes the NFL. The commissioner reportedly will address the matter on behalf of the NFL, probably on Saturday, most likely in the league's Park Avenue office.
If no charges are filed but it is determined Cable punched Hanson, Goodell still has the authority to discipline the coach for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
And he absolutely must take action.
I like Cable, have known him ever since he was an assistant at Cal in the mid-1990s. He's a good football man, a player's coach. But no supervisor can be allowed to punch a subordinate without severe consequences.
Bosses may be able to get away with mental cruelty, but battery is another matter. That's too much disorder for even the Raiders.
Not trusting the Raiders to handle the matter in-house, a reasonable viewpoint, Goodell is bound to step in. And Cable faces the possibility of an unpaid vacation.
Though there may come a Sunday this season when Cable won't be on the Oakland sideline, he is playing it as cool as possible — at least until this weekend.
At which time he'll be welcomed to the Big Apple. He should proceed with caution, for it may try to take a bite.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.